Embracing the outdoors
Because of our small size, there are no restrictions placed on the children’s outdoor time—our babies and children are constantly outdoors. In addition to two secure outdoor play spaces with all-weather safety surfaces, climbing equipment, and a vegetable patch, we are able to utilise the nine acres around our building for a forest school.
Whether the children are den-building, on a treasure hunt, or following a Gruffalo trail, they love these opportunities to explore nature. We teach the children gardening, watch the life cycles of tadpoles and butterflies, and help develop their innate curiosity and love for nature. They’ll try mud painting, spotting insects, climbing trees and baking bread on a camp fire. Sometimes we use the ‘Base Camp’, a wooded clearing within the nursery’s lower garden, and other times we take the children into safe areas of the wider grounds.
Although we always make sure the children are carefully supervised, and all the sessions are overseen by a staff member trained in Advanced Forest School Leadership, the open space and relative ‘freedom’ of the forest is an empowering environment for the children. Forest school activities teach children to understand and care for the woodland environment and help grow their awareness of the wider world and their place in it.
One of our mums has reported back that her daughter Phoebe, age 4, has grown hugely in her confidence in outdoor play since taking part in the Forest School sessions, saying, “Now she’s not afraid to get dirty or get close to nature and it’s really encouraged her interest in creepy crawlies! It’s so valuable for the children to have such a rich resource on their doorstep.” Another parent told us his daughter Jessica, age 4, “talks about Forest School all the time”, and Sophie, age 3, was happy to speak for herself, saying, “I like making muddy puddles and hunting for pirate treasure in the forest!”